The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Accidental Happiness?
November 17, 2006, 10:20 am
Filed under: Comment


You get up at 5am …





… and yet when you walk out the door and see the majesty of the World waking up with you – you can’t help but feel inspired, connected and alive.

A disgustingly talented and beautiful planner friend of mine, Catherine Heath, came up with this ‘Accidental Happiness’ phrase and I love it. 

It’s those moments where you just are struck by a wave of happiness … sometimes lasting a few seconds, sometimes lasting a few hours … and yet nothing tangible seems to have caused it.

I’m reading this book on ‘Life Statistics’ – and in it, it states babies laugh spontaneously around 300 per day and yet as adults, it goes down to about 15.

Sure, children are generally immune from the hard realities/pressures of life we appreciate [ha!] as adults – but for the majority of us, is life that hard? 

How much of these pressures are self imposed given so many of us have a ‘keep up with the Jones’s’ mentality?  And no, the irony that an Adman has written this hasn’t been lost on me.

So what is the moral of this story?

Well it isn’t “Fuck relying on coffee … get up early and look at the sky!” [though that’s not a bad message] … it’s that values, feelings and emotions are [and will continue to be] the most powerful way for brands to differentiate, communicate and motivate their way to true consumer loyalty. 

Of course this is nothing new, some brands have been doing it for years, however major things are affecting us these days – from the product/marketing parity in almost every category right through to the wars and poverty that surround us … so if organisations only focus on [Communication] ROI, then I believe they are actually ’reducing’ their ability to cultivate true consumer loyalty because for many people today, they want more out of their brand association than just ‘retail status’.

Of course some will be more protected than others … things like the category / distribution / geographic location / competition levels will all have an influence in how they handle this changing situation … but given the internet is letting people explore beyond their shores for who they wish to associate with, we could be entering the phase of ‘Champagne Socialism‘ – probably best demonstrated by Bono and his recent ‘Red’ campaign.

Ahhhh, RED … On one hand it’s a new way to help people alot less fortunate than the masses and on the other, it’s an opportunity [and excuse] for people obsessed with materialism to buy yet more products they don’t really need because they are lacking in self esteem and self respect. [It’s not just ‘material possession either, see this entry]


Of course … it’s me for God’s sake.  However, even though all help is good help, I can’t get past the fact the main supporters of RED are brands obsessed with aspirational material consumption which sort of means they TAKE huge amounts with one hand and then GIVE teensy-weensy bits back with the other.

It’s basically selling ‘Guilt Free Greed… but it’ll work because as I said, people want to associate with brands that give them a sense of belonging via values, emotions and/or feelings and when the alternative is just making a corporation rich – helping the needy [however small a % goes to them] is enough to let them sleep at night.  In essence, the Body Shop and Ben & Jerry’s were before their time … what a shame they now are owned by the sort of corporation who believes charity should always begin ‘at home’.

Hmmmmn, this entry is quite a contradictory, all-over-the-place and angry isn’t it … maybe it’s because I got up at 5 bloody AM and didn’t have a coffee!

21 Comments so far
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Maybe thats one reason why people tend to connect with ads that make them laugh…

I agree about Red. Especially when a company like Gap suddenly tries to proclaim its ethics.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

My biggest issue is that too many ads are a joke with a logo attached but I do get your gist. And GAP are the worst [or were] slave-labour using organisation in the World so their involvement is hypocritical to the extreme.

Comment by Rob


Execution with a joke does not make a good ad, but a well written joke in a well planned ad is gold.

And as for Gap. Its one of the few companies I refuse to buy from.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Agree with you on both counts … Pity that in Singapore, they were ecstatic when GAP opened – but that more to do with the shopping obsessed nation having somewhere new to go rather than them approving of slave labour. Then again …

Comment by Rob

I have been hearing a lot about this whole ethical corporation thing these days. My question is which company doesn’t violate some law or exploit poverty? I’m not a tree hugger or a commie, but poverty is the foundation of Capitalism. Buying Body Shop is not very ethical either, as it probably just killed the small local manufacturer of shampoos in a whole host of towns across the world.

Another symptom of this is the fact that the only problem we have with GAP is it’s use of Child Labour. We’ve reduced the definition of ‘ethics’ to it’s lowest common denominator, because in our heart of hearts we know we could never afford anything good if no one was exploited.

This is just my opinion, I’m all ears to learn your views.

Comment by Hari

You’re so right Hari … but then by that reckoning, no one is worthy of claiming themselves as ‘moralistic’ or ‘ethical’ – even the people that drop a few pence into the Salvo’s tin every now and then – because somewhere along the line, they probably have hurt or upset someone who didn’t deserve it.

It’s a sad situation, but in the communication of ethics, it’s all a question of ‘degrees of offence’, and while I am not advocating this attitude, I still think it’s better than not doing anything at all for fear of being called a hypocrite.

One mans charity supporter is another mans fundamentalist.

Comment by Rob

I agree with you Rob, the point I’m trying to make is that the danger in this approach of Project Red etc., is not so much that it’s an act of ‘hypocrisy-with-a-cause’ but that it’s becoming a fad. And once too many brands get onto it, the companies will be off looking at some other ’emotional’ differentiator and drop the charity to ‘invest’ the money in the new trick.

In the interest of the desrving people getting at least a teeny weeny percentage, we need to keep reminding clients not to think of this as a marketing advantage but a serious act as a corporate citizen. It shouldn’t be advertised but something discovered in-store or something by the customer, this is a pleasant surprise and will work far better in building brand equity. And more importantly ensure that the money for this is not from the ‘marketing budget’ hence becoming a more permenant feature.

Comment by Hari

Charity by marketing is not the way things should be. But that said, id rather have charity by marketing than no charity at all.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Unfortunately, marketing is as fickle as a 7 year old kid and so a ‘switch’ mentality is almost guaranteed. That’s sad … because everyone loses [company / charity / consumer] … but as we said, it’s still better than no charity at all.

Read what Henry Ford wanted his company to do … now that was visionary – but unfortunately, we live in a money obsessed World now, and whilst it’s easy to blame the corporations, the every-day shareholders are also to blame as they are the ones demanding the profit.

[Infact, Company CEO’s are legally obliged to do all they can to maximise company profits – so I could argue they’re less to blame than Mr and Mrs Average]

Comment by Rob

Indeed. Those companies that are truly ethical, or at least have an ethical streak in them have such potential to grow against their competitors. Its a shame more don’t take advantage of it.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

My favourite time was when I worked on ‘The Sunday Sport’, ‘Barclays Bank’ and ‘The Body Shop’ all at the same time. It was like a workout for morals, ethics and greed.

Comment by Rob

Talk about covering all your bases.
High flying ad executive, Canary Wharf financial suit and green party spokesman all in one…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Didn’t the Sport people send you a life sized poster of the fattest glamour model in the World?

Comment by Pete

Yes they did Pete … and you’ll remember I got bollocked for it – as if it was my fault!!!

Comment by Rob

Yes they did Pete … and you’ll remember I got bollocked for it – as if I asked them for it.

Comment by Rob

I bet that would make a fair bit on ebay.
Would be funny to see…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

When I say see… I meant ebay…not the poster!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

We have the poster somewhere too … but I hope I never find it!

Comment by Rob

Sounds like its hard to miss!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Speaking of fickle as 7-year olds, here we are now at the fattest glamour model…

Comment by Hari

[…] to various media reports [which I appreciate are not the best source for ‘facts’], RED – Bono’s AIDS idea – has raised approx US$18 million after spending [with associated […]

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